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The Brontës: 1887
Birnstall, West Yorkshire

Ellen Nussey was one of Charlotte Brontë's oldest and closest friends. They met in 1831 at Margaret Wooler's school at Roe Head. From 1839 onwards they holidayed together in Easton and Bridington, and Nussey also visited Charlotte at Haworth.

Ellen Nussey was sociable and lively, but not widely read, and was only let into the secret of the Brontës' published work after Emily Brontë's death in December 1848. She accompanied Charlotte and Anne Brontë on Anne's last journey to Scarborough in May 1849, tended to the dying Anne, made funeral arrangements after Anne passed away, and comforted Charlotte in the following weeks, as Charlotte resumed work on Shirley.

Ellen Nussey took a special interest in Shirley, and came to see Caroline Helstone as a portrait of herself. She grew jealous, however, of Charlotte's preoccupation with Reverend Arthur Bell Nicholls in the months preceding their engagement, and this led to an eight-month estrangement between Charlotte and herself.

After Charlotte's death in March 1855, Nussey's loyalty to the memory of an idealized Charlotte Brontë became one of her leading principles, and she made several attempts to publish the letters Charlotte had written to her.

Ellen Nussey died in 1887 at Moor Lane House in Gomersal.


Grave of Ellen Nussey, Saint Peter's churchyard, Birstall, West Yorkshire [1 May 1985]


Saint Peter's Church, Birstall, West Yorkshire (Also the Briarfield Church of Shirley) [1 May 1985]

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